Parents Raising Parents: An in-depth report - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Parents Raising Parents: An in-depth report

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KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) - For most kids, their parents are the ones taking care of them from infancy, but as the population ages, the tables are turning.

More sons and daughters are now caring for their aging parents. They're being called the sandwich generation, as they're squeezed between the responsibilities of parent and caregiver.

"It's almost like taking care of your child again that is now an adult person," Keokuk resident Jan Conover said.

Conover has cared for her step-father Richard Humphrey for nearly five years.

"He wasn't doing real good and I wasn't married and my child was grown and I thought, 'I'm just going to move in here with my dad and help him,' and I've been here ever since," Conover said.

Humphrey suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy, which causes his muscles to deteriorate over time. Two years ago, Conover brought in help from home healthcare worker Gina Shanley.

"She comes in, gets him out of bed, bathes him," Conover said. "Then we start our day."

Situations like Conover's and Humphrey's are becoming so common that companies now exist to give caregivers a break. Carelink in Quincy is one of those companies.

"When the family members work, we have caregivers go in there and make sure their loved one is taken care of," Carelink co-owner Cindy Paul said.

With a rapidly aging population, coupled with the rising cost of nursing homes, Paul says she is seeing more families turning towards in-home elderly care.

"Nursing home care averages about $6,000 to $8,000 a month," Paul said. "In-home care, we charge by the hour. It can probably range from $18 to $20 an hour."

Even though Conover says she is saving money by keeping her dad home, she isn't without financial hardships.

"It's pretty stressful because I take care of all his bills," Conover said. "Some days I'll be honest; I just want to walk out the door."

The role-reversal of the child now taking care of the parent was something Conover had to get used to. Humphrey, on the other hand, says he's still coming to terms with it.

"It's very inconvenient and sometimes I feel like I'm putting a load on my family," Humphrey said. "I think the main thing is learning how to accept it."

Humphrey says he'd much rather be in his own home than anywhere else.

"I couldn't be treated any better," Humphrey said. "I'm kind of like a king here."

"He's my step-father and he took me in when I was very young and raised me, so you know, I'll take care of him now," Conover said.

But studies show, as a caregiver spends more time focusing on a family member, they may be neglecting their own mental and physical health.  In fact, NBC News found nearly half of all caregivers suffer from depression.

"Maintain contact with your friends, because your friends and your family are going to wind up being your support people and it's very hard to be a caregiver without that support," Clinical Psychologist Dr. Frank Froman said. "You have to wind up taking breaks. Everybody needs that break. They need a time out and time outside in order to rejuvenate."

Along with day-to-day stresses, there is satisfaction in caring for someone in need. Nearly 72 percent of caregivers believe that providing care to an older family member has brought them closer to that person.



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